On this week's edition of "Wingin' It Wednesday", panelist Mike Stagg, Carol Ross, and Warren Caudle joined "Mornings with Ken and Bernie" to discuss Lafayette City-Parish Council members' expense accounts, as well as news from the Lafayette Parish Schoolboard.

Here's what the panel had to say:

1. City-Parish council members are paid $25,000 per year and authorized to spend $3,000 - $5,000 each on expenses for travel, tourism and meetings. Do you see a problem with 3 council members spending 91% of the expense budget for travel and entertainment while four council members spent nothing?


Warren Caudle started us off:

I think what really stands out, when you look at who's spending the money, you've got some really extreme leftist, tax and spend, big government people at the local level. The main one that stands out to me is Councilman Don Bertrand who goes around saying the citizens of Lafayette don't pay enough taxes.
Then I see on KATC Kenneth Boudreaux saying he had to go to Boston for a Black Caucus meeting to find out how to represent his people, haven't we gotten past that, the color barrier? Treating one group different from the other group?

Mike Stagg added:

I guess the basic question is if the expense is $3-5 thousand, how are some people able to spend more.
No disrespect to channel 3, but this ignores the real scandal, which is at the core of consolidated government. From the beginning of consolidated government, city-parish government has been taking money from the city of Lafayette and spending it on the parish. This is the real scandal in Lafayette, quit messing around with $3-5 thousand dollar piles of money here when the parish is defunding the city of Lafayette to run projects in the rest of the parish. It's against the law.
This goes back to the beginning of consolidated government. It's been a scam from the start to take money from the city of Lafayette and spend it in the rest of the parish.


(Click here to see Mike Stagg's latest blog on Louisiana's Energy Social Contract)

Carol Ross concluded:

Obviously they're eating too much because they're coming up with these cockamamie ideas like overlay districts.
They're going to widen the right-of-way, or what they call the 'servitude' without compensating the property owners. What the heck? I love the idea of bike paths, but every concept has a cost. Every plan has a payment.
$25,000 is their base salary. I don't mind paying a salary for people doing the right thing. But when you think they're not doing the right thing and you see that they're exceeding their expense accounts, it shows how they feel about their constituency, about the people of Lafayette.
Mike is correct, before we do anything we need to fix the charter before we do anything.

Warren Caudle, Carol Ross, Mike Stagg; KPEL 965

2. The Community Education Committee is expected to recommend to the Lafayette Parish School System that a tax proposal be placed on the November ballot.  This proposal would be modeled after one in Oklahoma City.  The Oklahoma City tax paid for construction of new schools as well as the repair of facilities.  Do you think Lafayette voters will decide to impose a new tax, raise property taxes or opt for general obligation bonds to further education?

Carol commented:

The proposal is supposed to be modeled after the one in OKC. OKC is a much larger district, they've got 8 school board members, guess how much they get paid. $25 a meeting. I want to be like OKC, lets do that first.
By the way, I ask the same question I ask the last time we talked about this. What has improved between the school board, the superintendent, and the school districts since the last time we talked about this?

Mike responded:

My daughter is a product of Lafayette public schools. The schools she went to are relics. They should be museums in stead of places where education is taking place. Go look at Baton Rouge. Go look at what they've done in Baton Rouge with their schools. Communities makes a statement about what they value by the way they treat their public school systems, and Lafayette does not value public education.
And the notion that Lafayette can succeed if only a small part of us do is a myth. Not in this competitive world we live in where we view ourselves as a technology hub. You not only have to attract talent, you have to grow it locally, and we are not providing the location, the resources, or the community signal that this is something we value.
The community needs to own up to what the future's about, and you can't get there running a school system out of butler buildings.

Warren surmised:

Education is more about dollars and cents
Follow the money trail. How much did they pay to have some group to come in here and tell them what kind of buildings they needed to pursue? It's just outrageous.
We need to sit down and take a comprehensive approach to all this stuff, and basically public education needs to be reinvented.
I agree, we need good physical plants, but we also need to sit down and take a real hard look at where the problems are in these schools and figure out how we're going to fix them. You can't take failing schools and failing teachers and turn around and put them in a brand new building and expect a miracle to happen.

Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think about today’s Wingin’ It Wednesday topics. Who got it right, who got it wrong, and who was way off? Let us know in the comment section.